Barcelona is one of those cities that’s always bustling. From its magnificent architecture to its cultural aspects, it’s a perfect destination for a city break. “Barna”, as the locals call it, has a lot to offer, which is why you should include it in your next trip to Europe.

What are Barcelona’s main attractions? Here’s my personal list:

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1. Be awed by the Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Cost: tickets start at $37 for an inside visit (you can book your tickets here)

A must-see in Barcelona, the Sagrada Familia is an unfinished masterpiece by artist Antoni Gaudí. It quickly became the symbol of the cultural city, and what a symbol it is! I was impressed by the monument’s many sculptures and fine details.

Details on the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona

Incidentally, it’s already over 140 years since construction began (1882), so it’s not surprising that it’s the most popular site in all of Spain. And, I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see it completed (theoretically in 2026).

I didn’t take an inside tour as it wasn’t in my budget, but if you want to, you’ll need to buy your tickets in advance as the number of people allowed per day is limited. You’ll also need to choose a fixed time and not be late, as your ticket will not be refunded.

Nevertheless, I visited the site several times, including at night, as the atmosphere is different and more magical in my opinion. It’s also much less crowded!

Saggrada Familia by night in Barcelona

2. Walk down La Rambla Street

Rambla street in Barcelona
Photo by Jorge Fernández Salas on Unsplash

THE street to go to when you’re bored to death. Why? Because there’s always something going on at La Rambla. Street artists, florists, restaurants, all your senses are on alert. It’s great fun to stroll along this pedestrian thoroughfare, surrounded by trees and little kiosks, enjoying the Catalan ambience.

It’s also where you’ll find many architectural and technical feats. Popular with tourists and locals alike, the area is always lively and crowded for much of the day. So watch out for pickpockets!

3. Visit La Pedrera

La Pedrera in Barcelona

Cost: tickets for the visit start at around $13 (7-12 years old) and $27 for an adult

Once again, La Pedrera (Casa Milà) is a work of Gaudí, the genius of unique and impressive architecture, and a must-see in Barcelona.

Built on the corner of Passeig de Gràcia, once the city’s most important avenue due to the wealthiest people who lived there, it was originally intended to be a house with apartments on the upper floors. A few illegalities and conflicts later, part of La Pedrera has been transformed into a cultural center that you can visit.

You wouldn’t think the building was the object of satire when you see the number of tourists who visit the site every year.

4. See the unique Casa Batlló

Casa Batllo in Barcelona

Cost: tickets start at $31 for adults, free for kids under 12 years old

Let’s enter once again into the remarkable imagination of the well-known artist Gaudí. Built this time for a textile magnate, the exterior is an ode to nature and the marine world. The colors and details invite visitors on a journey into a magical world.

The interpretation is up to you, but you can’t deny that no one can remain indifferent in front of such a work of art.

5. Stroll through the iconic La Barceloneta and sunbathe on the beach

Street in Barcelona

La Barceloneta is a district with a dual atmosphere, combining old buildings rich in history with beaches.
First you can explore and lose yourself in the many narrow streets, always full of that unique, quiet charm, until you can’t resist your craving for paella.

Once you’ve filled your stomach, you can head to the famous beach just a few steps away.

It’s one of the best places to watch the sunset, and is always bustling with life too. With its 4 km of sand, you’ll find plenty of activities (beach volleyball, soccer…) and you can even go cycling right next to the beach while enjoying the ocean view.

6. Explore the historic Port Vell

Port Vell in Barcelona

I’ve been here twice in three days, so I don’t need to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed it. It’s not your typical port with shipping containers or warehouses, although at one time it was. But everything has since been renovated, much to my delight.

From the bridge with its La Gamba sculpture (a big smiling shrimp) to the Ferris wheel, the whole complex is now not only a major tourist attraction, but also the ideal place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

And as the end of the year approaches, many stalls are set up on the seafront. Food, workshops, music… with Christmas lights, it’s a real party.

7. Admire the magnificence of the Cathedral of Barcelona

Cathedral of Barcelona

Cost: tickets start at $12 for a simple visit of the Cathedral

When it comes to architecture, Barcelona has a lot to offer, and this place is one of the many examples. I stood on the steps for a while, contemplating the structure and details while taking lots of photos.

It was in fact the first building I saw, before the Sagrada Familia, when I arrived in the city. And I was already more than impressed.

And if you want another authentic experience, Sardana dance demonstrations take place almost all year round at weekends, except in winter. This is a traditional Catalan dance in which people hold hands and dance in a circle that can grow as others join in. Fun and conviviality guaranteed!

8. Go back in time in the Gothic Quarter

Gothic Quarter in Barcelona

The Gothic Quarter or “Barri Gòtic” is Barcelona’s old town, where history rubs shoulders with trendy restaurants and bars. Do you know the feeling of traveling back in time (without a time machine, of course!)?
Well, that’s exactly what I felt as I wandered through the labyrinthine streets. I felt like I was back in medieval times, with its centuries-old buildings and the remains of the city’s Roman wall.

If you keep exploring, you’ll eventually find yourself on the beautiful and vibrant Plaça Reial.

Plaça Reial in Barcelona

This is Barcelona’s most popular square, and it’s not hard to see why. Palm trees, terraces and sunshine make it an ideal place to enjoy the Spanish ambience while dining out. Or maybe just sit by the fountain and admire the place because some of the restaurants were a bit too expensive for my budget.

9. Experience the unique Encants Market

With 301 stores, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for or something else in this famous Barcelona flea market.

Auctions also take place and are open to all on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 8am to 9am.

AND there’s food too! Because yes, walking around the market can be pretty exhausting and make you hungry too!

10. Sample food at La Boqueria Market

Boquerie market in Barcelona
Photo by Martijn Vonk on Unsplash

Want to taste fresh, quality produce? La Boqueria is the place to go. You can’t even miss it, since it’s right on the Ramblas. This is where you’ll find the produce that end up on your plates at the restaurant, and where the locals come to do their shopping.

Bright colors and varied, pleasant scents that reach your nostrils – that’s how I’d describe the experience of strolling through La Boqueria. The hardest part was stopping myself from buying and tasting all the food that came my way.

11. Contemplate the city from the top of Montjuïc

Montjuic in Barcelona

Viewpoints, Magic Fountain, botanical gardens and more – Montjuïc hill alone brings together many tourist attractions. Start your exploration at Plaça Espanya, before making your way to the top of the castle to enjoy the beautiful panorama.

With so much to do, it’s a must on your Barcelona itinerary. Especially in the evening, at weekends, when the Magic Fountain presents its music and light shows.

12. Wander around the city at night

Barcelona at night

Nothing beats discovering a city under the lights of night, and Barcelona is no exception. You’ll see the architecture and the world differently. Say goodbye to the busy streets and hello to the magic of the night.

I always feel more connected and aware of my surroundings when streetlights guide my path. Plus, night photos have this mystical charm.

Anyway, even if that’s not your thing and you’re more of a party person, you should know that Barcelona has a very active nightlife.

13. Discover Gaudí’s first masterpiece: Casa Vicens

Casa Vicens in Barcelona

Cost: free for kids until 11 years old and around 23 $ for people aged 12 years and over

I know, I know, more Gaudí art, but there’s no denying the beauty and creativity of his work. That’s why I had to include this one too. What’s more, Casa Vicens was the first building to introduce the artist to the people of Barcelona at the time.

The palm trees in the garden, the green and white ceramic tiles and the combination of colors and details are just some of the aspects that make this building a masterpiece.

Picture of Casa Vicens in Barcelona

You can now visit the house converted into a museum and see the exhibitions to learn more about the history of Casa Vicens and its architecture.

14. Take in the panorama at Tibidabo

Tibidabo in Barcelona
Photo by Elliot PARIS on Unsplash

How to get there: the easiest way is to take the Funicular Tibidabo at Plaça Doctor Andreu, cost > around $13

I love the fact that so many places in Barcelona offer superb panoramic views of the city and the ocean. Tibidabo is one of them. Situated on a hill and best known for its Sacred Heart of Jesus temple and amusement park, the mountain is now a symbol of the city.

The highest point in the city, marvel at the view or explore the flora and fauna of the region by bike or simply on foot.

15. Make your way to the Parc del Guinardó

Parc del Guinardo in Barcelona

Instead of heading to Parc Güell and joining the throngs of tourists, I chose to visit a hidden and mostly ignored gem, Parc del Guinardó.

After a short climb accompanied by the scent of pine trees, I found myself captivated by the superb scene unfolding before my eyes.

What started out as an unexpected hike ended up being my favorite discovery in Barcelona. The park is still wild and you can enjoy nature and breathtaking views without the tourists.

In a nutshell

That’s how I spent my three days in the beautiful Catalan capital of Barcelona. The city is undoubtedly a must-see in Europe, whether you’re an art connoisseur or not. Architecture is certainly one of the main reasons why people visit Barcelona, but don’t forget that the Catalan city is much more than that. Its landscapes and vibrant atmosphere are enough to make me want to return in the near future!

Interested in learning Spanish? Here’s my post on the subject!

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